Security protocols for Members of Parliament will potentially be overhauled in the wake of the suspected terror killing of Conservative MP Sir David Amess, with Brexit leader Nigel Farage calling for military veterans to be tasked with protecting politicians.
A security review conducted by Home Secretary Priti Patel may see every MP offered a security detail while meeting with constituents at local surgeries, which will possibly be equipped with metal detectors, The Times reports.
The revamped security protocols come in the wake of Sir David Amess being stabbed to death while meeting with the public at a surgery in the Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on Friday.
It is currently believed that there was “a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism” for the killing of the Tory MP, with a 25-year-old named by the press as Ali Harbi Ali being arrested on suspicion of murder and further detained under the Terrorism Act.
Commenting on the security of politicians in Britain, Nigel Farage called for MPs to be provided with personal security when holding pre-advertised meetings with the public.
Mr Farage, who acknowledged that his own high profile and strong views led to much more vitriol being directed against him than the average MP, said on GB News that he was forced to employing a security detail in light of “endless death threats” and attacks against him.
The Brexit leader said that he is “absolutely certain” that if Sir David had a trained security officer with him at the time of his murder “there is no way he would have been stabbed seventeen times.”
Farage suggested employing veterans from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to protect MPs, noting that they are trained to be on the “lookout for terrorism” and in dealing with civilians in difficult situations.
He also pointed out that it would be a positive way for veterans to serve their communities again, with many finding the readjustment back to civilian life difficult.
Mr Farage added that for pre-advertised events such as surgery meetings, there should be a vetting process for those wishing to attend.
“There ought to be a check on whether the person coming even lives in the constituency and there ought to be a way for those names just to be passed over to the local police to check whether anyone on that list is potentially a problem,” he said.
Some Members of Parliament have called for a pause in face-to-face meetings with the public, including Tory politician Tobias Ellwood, who wrote on social media that “MP engagement with the public… is a vital part of our work — our accessibility with the public. But understandable huge anxiety amongst MPs now.
“Until the Home Secretary’s review of MP security is complete I would recommend a temporary pause in face-to-face meetings,” Elwood said, suggesting that surgery meetings could be held online for the time being.
The Labour Party’s former Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott, said that she would “prefer” to meet the public through a plastic barrier in order to prevent possible stabbings.
Others have cast a defiant tone, including Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke, who held a meeting with the public at a local supermarket following the attack on Sir David Amess.
“We cannot let events like this diminish the deep relationship between an MP and their constituents,” Shelbrooke said.
“I love that my constituents feel they can approach me in this way and the ability to do so is a foundation of British democracy,” he added.
The attack on Sir David Amess was the fourth attack on a British MP involving knives over the past 20 years. In 2016, Labour MP Jo Cox was shot and stabbed to death by a far-right terrorist, and in 2010 Labour MP Stephen Timms survived being attacked by a radical Islamist who stabbed him twice.
In 2000, Liberal Democrat MP Nigel Jones was assaulted with a samurai sword along with his aide, county councillor Andrew Pennington, who died of his wounds.
Both surviving MPs have stressed the importance of British politicians meeting with their constituents in the wake of the assassination of Sir David Amess.
“Our democracy relies on an open channel between those in power and the people who we represent. It’s vital to be able to meet people face to face so they can feel we are here and are working for them,” wrote Jones, now a member of the House of Lords, in The Telegraph.
Stephen Timms said that Sir David “was committed to his constituency in Southend, and gave his life — tragically and appallingly — in serving his constituents. Members of Parliament must always be accessible to their constituents, as David was.”
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